Historians at UNSW are uniquely global. We focus on imperial, colonial and transnational histories that rethink the grand narratives of the past and interrogate the way we understand our present. We research in regions across the world, including Africa, East and South-East Asia, Inner Asia, Europe and the Mediterranean, and the Pacific, all in conversation with Australian history. Our methodological expertise spans legal history, political history, environmental history, feminist history, history of science, cultural history, and more.

Historians at UNSW research and publish in four key areas:

● Comparative Imperial Histories

● Histories of Migration, Refugees, and Modern Diasporas

● Histories of East and South-East Asian Cultures

● Histories of Modern Gender

Historians at UNSW

History Conversations @ UNSW

  • During term-time, UNSW History hosts presentations by cutting edge scholars about their current research. These are usually held on a Tuesday at 12:30pm, AEST. All are welcome to attend. More details are available here.

  • This year, UNSW will host the Australian Historical Association (AHA) conference, the peak conference held annually by and for historians working in and/or about Australia. We celebrate forty years since UNSW hosted the first AHA conference in 1981. This year’s theme is Unfinished Business. The Uluru Statement, Black Lives Matter protests, toppled statues and the Whitlam Dismissal are just a few of many examples of history’s unfinished business in the contemporary world.

  • Here are some recent publications from our historians.

    Ruth Balint Destination Elsewhere: Displaced Persons and their Quest to Leave Postwar Europe (Cornell University Press, 2021).

    Andrew Beattie, Allied Internment Camps in Occupied Germany: Extrajudicial Detention in the Name of Denazification, 1945–1950 (Cambridge University Press, 2019).

    Emma Christopher, Freedom in White and Black: A Lost Story of the Illegal Slave Trade and Its Global Legacy (University of Minnesota Press, 2020).

    Lisa Ford, The King’s Peace: Law and Order in the British Empire (Harvard University Press, 2021).

    Jarrod Hore, Visions of Nature: How Landscape Photography Shaped Settler Colonialism (University of California Press, 2022).

    Grace Karskens, People of the River: Lost Worlds of Early Australia (Allen and Unwin, 2020).

    Mina Roces, The Filipino Migration Experience: Global Agents of Change (Cornell University Press, 2021) 

  • British Imperial Commissions of Inquiry.

    In the 1820s, Royal Commissions of Inquiry were dispatched to almost every colony in the British Empire to rethink imperial law and governance after the cataclysm of the Napoleonic Wars. This project explores the vast archives created by the Commissions with particular emphasis on how evidence was gathered and who got to have a say in imperial reform.

    The Laureate Centre for History & Population

    Launched in July 2021, this Centre asks how, where, and why population policies emerged over the 19th and 20th centuries, and what their present legacies are, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

    The New Earth Histories Research Program

    This project brings the history of geosciences and the history of select world cosmologies together. We aim to produce a fresh and cosmopolitan history of environmental sciences, analysing the significance of geological time and multiple cosmologies for global modernity itself. 

    Remembering Sydney’s post-war Greek neighbourhoods, 1949-1972

    During the height of the post-war immigration boom, Sydney’s metropolitan neighbourhoods played a key role in the reconstitution of migrant identities. Taking a cluster of these neighbourhoods as its case studies, this project will inscribe the memories of Greek-Australians into a history of post-war migration.

    A History of Domestic Violence in Australia 1850-2020

    The project aims to investigate similarities and differences in women's lived experiences of domestic violence across ethnic, cultural and class contexts; to historicise its cultural representations and their impacts; and to identify and assess policy and legal measures to constrain domestic violence.